Imagine as a supplier of medical oxygen cylinders and tanks in your region, you enter into an arrangement with HHS or DHS to provide oxygen to nearby hospital facilities dealing with surges in the COVID-19 pandemic. However, due to the recent dramatic surge in your area and the significant demand for oxygen, the government moved quickly to award you a contract that appears very different from other federal contracts you have previously signed.

Continue Reading Terminations for Convenience Clauses vs. Mutual Termination Clauses: What are the Limits on the Government’s Right to Terminate?

In a previous post, we discussed the need to include a sum certain as part of a CDA claim. This requirement of course is but one of several needed for a CDA claim to be valid and for the Court of Federal Claims and the boards of contract appeals to take jurisdiction. Another equally important requirement is that the claim be certified. Like the sum certain requirement, failing to properly certify a claim has the potential to derail pending litigation, or worse, could even prevent an unwary contractor from asserting the claim altogether.

Continue Reading Perfecting a CDA Claim: Don’t Forget to Certify

If a dispute arises on a federal contract, the Contract Disputes Act requires a contractor to submit a written demand seeking as a matter of right a “sum certain” to the contracting officer as part of the claims process. What exactly is a “sum certain”? It is what it sounds like—contractors must provide an exact dollar amount of the overall damages they are claiming in their CDA claims. In other words, whatever damages the contractor is claiming cannot be qualified in any way. Contractors should never use the words “at least,” “approximately,” “no less than,” or “well over” with their damage figure. Instead, the contractor must provide an exact amount a set damage figure that represents the overall amount being demanded. It is okay if the damage figure is an estimate—even a flat calculation of $100,000—as long as an overall demand is made without any qualifying language.

Continue Reading Perfecting a CDA Claim: Sage Advice for the Sum Certain Requirement

The Contract Disputes Act establishes the formal process for resolving nearly all claims and disputes that arise under federal government contracts. It is the source of the requirement that contractors certify claims in excess of $100,000, the contracting officer’s final decision, and the deadlines for bringing a dispute to the Court of Federal Claims or an agency board of contract appeals.

It is also the source of the federal government’s authority to use mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. Today we review six key things contractors should know about mediating contract claims and disputes at the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals.


Continue Reading Mediating contract claims and disputes at the ASBCA

On March 31, 2021, in United States ex rel. Felten v. William Beaumont Hospital, No. 20-1002, 2021 WL 1204981 (6th Cir. Mar. 31, 2021), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that the False Claims Act’s (FCA) anti-retaliation provision protects former employees alleging post-termination retaliation. The decision creates a split with the Tenth Circuit, which held in 2018 in Potts v. Center for Excellence in Higher Education, Inc., 908 F.3d 610 (10th Cir. 2018), that former employees are excluded from the scope of the FCA’s anti-retaliation provision. While current employees are undoubtedly protected under the provision, Felten ultimately leaves the question of whether former employees may recover for post-termination retaliation under the FCA unsettled across all circuits.

Continue Reading Can Former Employees Assert Post-Termination Retaliation Claims Under the False Claims Act?

In today’s world, there is a tendency to believe that everything must be preserved forever. The common belief is that documents, emails, text messages, etc. cannot be deleted because doing so may be viewed as spoliation (i.e., intentionally destroying relevant evidence). A party guilty of spoliation can be sanctioned, which can include an adverse inference that the lost information would have helped the other side. But that does not mean that contractors have to preserve every conceivable piece of information or data under all circumstances. There are key differences between routine document destruction (when done before receiving notice of potential claims or litigation) and spoliation.

Continue Reading The difference between routine document destruction and spoliation

The Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Boeing Co. v. Secretary of Air Force, 983 F.3d 1321 (Fed. Cir. 2020), provides some useful clarity on the contents of the restrictive markings and legends that contractors affix to the technical data they deliver to the Government.

The case arose from two Air Force contracts for engineering and manufacturing development of radar systems needed for the F-15 Eagle. The contracts required Boeing to deliver technical data to the Air Force with “unlimited rights.” While Boeing retained ownership of the data, the unlimited rights license allowed the Air Force to “use, modify, reproduce, perform, display, release, or disclose [t]he technical data in whole or in part, in any manner, and for any purpose whatsoever, and to have or authorize others to do so.” 983 F.3d at 1325 (citing DFARS 252.227-7013(a)(16)).


Continue Reading How The Federal Circuit’s Boeing Decision Protects Contractor Ownership Of Technical Data

In response to the growing Coronavirus pandemic, President Trump announced that the federal government will invoke the Defense Production Act to obtain necessary medical equipment and supplies from private industry. In this post we address some of the most frequently-asked questions about the DPA.

What is the Defense Production Act?

Originally conceived during the Korean War, the DPA allows the President to divert goods and supplies from civilian use to promote the national defense. This authority is not limited to sourcing aircraft parts or ammunition, or to supporting active military operations. The text of the Act expressly extends to matters involving “national economic security and national public health or safety.”

The Defense Priorities and Allocations System regulations in 15 C.F.R. Part 700 implement the Defense Production Act. The DPAS regulations provide detail about how the government will issue rated orders and what contractors and commercial suppliers must do to respond.

How does the government prioritize orders for specific supplies?

The government specifies the relative priority for specific supplies by issuing a “rated order,” which may be designated “DX” or “DO.” A DX order has the highest priority. It must be fulfilled before any other DO or unrated order. A DO rated order must be fulfilled before an unrated order. A rated order must be fulfilled first, even if it means the contractor must divert items already in process or ready for delivery under another contract.
Continue Reading Contractor FAQs on the Defense Production Act

The spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) remains unclear, but its impacts are already being felt. Supply chains are being disrupted and companies are implementing preventative measures to protect their employees. Many businesses have already suspended non-essential travel, encouraged remote working arrangements, and advised employees to follow the Centers for Disease Control risk-reduction strategies. Given these delays and disruptions, it’s logical to wonder:  Are delays or impacts related to the Coronavirus an excusable delay?

The answer is yes, if you can prove it. Below we outline the standard contract clauses dealing with delays from epidemics and discuss how courts have interpreted those clauses in the past when contractors claimed their delays should be excused due to an epidemic.
Continue Reading Is Coronavirus an excusable delay?

Under the Christian Doctrine, prime contractors face the risk of having a court or a board of contract appeals read a clause into their contracts, even if it was omitted from the contract that they signed. In this entry we discuss whether the Christian Doctrine applies to subcontractors.

The Christian Doctrine is almost certainly inapplicable to subcontractors. For the reasons why, consider the decision in Energy Labs, Inc. v. Edwards Engineering, Inc., (N.D. Ill. June 2, 2015). A subcontractor contracted to manufacture and deliver HVAC systems for the Chicago Transit Authority. In its own contract, the prime contractor certified that the HVAC system would comply with the Buy America Act. But the prime contractor failed to flow the requirement down to the HVAC manufacturer, which planned to manufacture the units in Mexico. After learning that the plan to manufacture the units in Mexico would not meet the Buy America requirement, the prime contractor canceled the order and purchased the units from another manufacturer.

The original manufacturer sued for breach of contract. In its motion to dismiss, the prime contractor made two arguments. The subcontract was “illegal” because it omitted the Buy America requirement. Or it was legal only because the Christian Doctrine meant that the Buy America requirement was read into the subcontract by operation of law. The court rejected both arguments. There was nothing “illegal” about the prime’s failure to include a Buy America requirement in the subcontract. And there was no basis to read the requirement into the subcontract through the Christian Doctrine. “The Christian doctrine . . . was intended to apply to contracts between the federal government and government contractors, not to subcontracts.”

This result is consistent with our experience.
Continue Reading Does the Christian Doctrine apply to subcontractors?